Remember last August and September? Do you really? What stands out, other than Josh Hamilton dropping the ball in Game 162?
Remember the Bernie Lean? Remember the pies? Remember the fun?
Where is that this year?
Reddickulous commercials and Green Collar baseball aside, the enduring image from last night’s loss Is Josh Reddick slamming his bat down at home plate and barking all the way back to the dugout. It’s Bob Melvin getting tossed while arguing at second.
The enduring image from Tuesday’s loss? Chris Young standing, staring at the foul pole.
Last year round this time, there was a lot going on. The Giants were on their way to the World Series. The 49ers carried their preseason buzz. And the A’s, the A’s at that point had no eyes upon them. The record wasn’t much different. On August 15, 2012, the A’s were 61 and 55 and had just dropped a game to the Royals. The Rangers were 67 and 49 and six games ahead. The Angels were a game ahead of the A’s. That’s right, the Angels. The A’s were in THIRD.
There was no hope. But we all know what happened next.
The A’s went 12 and 2 for the rest of August, closing the summer with a 20-2 thumping of the Bosox. Sure, it all came down to the last game, but watching Texas and watching Oakland, we all knew what would happen, what had to happen. There is a baseball God you know. And heaven is green and gold.
So what’s the difference between 2012 and 2013, besides the fact that the A’s, in relation to their AL West peers, are actually in better shape than in 2012? Fun. This team is having no fun.
That reckless, dangerous spark the A’s had in 2012 just isn’t there. It’s easy to forget how young these guys are, their 20s and 30s mostly. (Sorry Bartolo.) Young men playing a game shouldn’t look this serious. So worried. But so it is. We expect things from them now you see.
The Giants are a lot cause. And the A’s, this magnificent group of misfits, are no longer strangers to a pennant race. They’ve shown they can win. They’re expected to win. That, from here, doesn’t look like a lot of fun.
The A’s need to discover some emotion. Fury has worked for Texas. I’ve rarely seen such an angry team. They have a chip on their shoulder and burning desire to wipe the name Josh Hamilton from everyone’s lips. And it’s working for them. With rare exception, they’re punishing teams. Ask the Astros. You know, the team that just took 2 of 3 from the A’s? They’re not looking forward to the Rangers coming back.
If the A’s can’t find the fun, maybe they can find the rage. The Indians swagger into town tomorrow, at 65 and 56, three games behind the A’s for the wildcard. Think they’re excited? If they sweep the A’s, as they did in May (remember those four games?) they can not only put the Rangers in the driver’s seat for the West, but make the A’s postseason situation incredibly dire.
I hope the A’s remember the humiliations of May. I hope it gnaws at them and sits like a stone in their stomachs. If they can’t have fun, then they need to get angry. Their backs are against the wall, and a perfect target for a beating is before them.
And for heaven’s sake, bring back the Lean. If the A’s can’t have fun, why can’t we?